Donating game meat nourishes the stomach and the soul. Thank a hunter and eat a second helping of moose sloppy joes!

9769674 - wild deers in a forest in autumnHunters across the country walked softly through the field and sat quietly in stands and blinds. They sighted rifles, called to bucks, and if all went as planned, filled their tags and hauled out their kill. What came next was, for many hunters, an act of charity.

An increasing number of outdoorsmen are opting to donate game meat to feed the less fortunate. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, an advocacy group that targets hunting and angling, about 2.8 million pounds of meat were donated in 2010 alone to programs that supply food pantries and soup kitchens. Last year in Virginia, a group known as Virginia Hunters for the Hungry accepted donations from more than 7,000 hunters to provide a total of 283,198 pounds of meat to food banks. Hunters for the Hungry can be found in other states too, where they accept meat from their respective game animals. The Maine chapter of the group takes meat from bear and moose, which makes its way into dishes like “moose sloppy joes and bear corned beef’” served up for the state’s hungry. And in Utah, volunteers working with a Catholic charity and the national Hunt.Fish.Feed. campaign have served up more than 16,000 meals to homeless residents of Salt Lake City, making a specialty of venison tacos sourced from local mule deer.

The time we spend outdoors is food for the soul, but it also provides a much more tangible nourishment to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. That’s a sporting tradition we can all be proud of!

Rifle vs. Bow: When you head into the field, which are you taking?

22819588 - full hunter hunting rifleWhen you’re on the hunt for big game, you need to have the right weapon to get the job done. So which is it — rifle or bow? To be sure, there are more options out there than just the big two, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll leave it at that. There’s no accounting for personal taste, but both means have their own perks — we’ve got a few right here to get you thinking about what you’re taking out to the field.

Drawing the bowstring. The bow has a kind of primal attraction that many find irresistible. And why not? The limited range of a bowhunt means you need to stalk your prey as closely as possible so as to take a shot and make a humane kill. Subsequently, their approach to the hunt is to walk softly and carry a big arrow. Unlike the blaze orange of a rifle hunter, the bowhunter can be seen — or not — in scent-free camoflauge attire. Of course, just getting in range of your target doesn’t mean you’ll hit it, which brings us to another point. Mastering the bow takes time and practice, and many will pick up the quiver as an added challenge after getting the rifle thoroughly under control.

Pulling the trigger. The bow might take an extra level of perfection, but that’s not to say that rifle hunting is easy. Still, the added range of a rifle gives hunters even more chances to take a shot at their prey. The rifle also typically has a cheaper cost of entry both in terms of money and time. Hunters who are strapped for either might find that appealing, as do those who prefer a nice tree stand over a prolonged hike through the rough.

This list is obviously far from exhaustive, as you also have to account for differences in season, tag availability and terrain. But even when we pull all the other factors into play, the choice still comes down to finding your own path and walking it. At the end of the day, that’s a big part of what this whole outdoors thing is all about — that and the camaraderie that only a deer camp can bring. So, now that we’ve described them both, we want to know whether you’re packing the rifle or the bow?